An intimate tale of two students’ elusive search for love and belonging in the crumbling Naples’ neighborhood known as the Spanish Quarter.
Years after leaving Naples with a broken heart, Heddi receives an email from her first love. Although she now lives a tranquil life in New Zealand, just the thought of the Spanish Quarter’s narrow, winding streets sparks the pain of longing. Heddi found her place in that city built on Roman ruins among a rambunctious tribe of, language students getting their first taste of freedom while escaping suffocating homes and families. Naples was their real university of life: the setting of their unrestrained youth.
When Heddi met Pietro at a party hosted by her bohemian roommates, she was inexplicably drawn to the serious geology student. Despite coming from wildly different backgrounds— Heddi, a nomadic American; Pietro, an Italian farm boy—the two fell into a liberating romance. She was searching for the roots she never had, while he tried to escape his. The Spanish Quarter with its earthquakes and illegal floors built from soft volcanic rock—a constant reminder of the precariousness of all things—mirrored Heddi and Pietro’s turbulent love. Yet even after the two were doomed to part ways, their story hasn’t ended just yet.
Inspired by her own ten-year search for belonging in Naples, written in Italian and then self-translated to English, author Heddi Goodrich’s novel gives readers a passionate tale of a life caught between two worlds and a heartfelt ode to first love—of a place, of a person—where languages and cultures collide while dreams soar and crash in unexpected ways.